Julian Schnabel: Symbols of Actual Life

April 19, 2018August 5, 2018

Since 1977, Julian Schnabel (b. 1951) has captured people’s imagination with paintings that speak to his incessant appetite for sculptural physicality, material diversity, and pictorial symbolism, resulting in ever more audaciously scaled paintings that oscillate between abstraction and figuration. This exhibition features a new body of work created for the Legion’s Court of Honor. At twenty-four by twenty-four feet, the paintings are both monumental in scale and ephemeral in nature. Exposed to the elements over the four-month run of the exhibition, they aren’t meant to last. The artist has said they “epitomize much of what are the essential characteristics of the smallest and most nascent proposals of how imagery drawing and material could be called a painting.” In addition, Schnabel is also showing eleven paintings from three distinct bodies of work, including a new series of abstractions on Mexican sack linen as well as examples from the Goat Paintings (begun in 2012) and the Jane Birkin series (1990).

Image: Julian Schnabel's studio in Montauk, 2017. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging, © Julian Schnabel Studio

Artist Bio

Julian Schnabel in his studio in Montauk, New York, 2017. Photo by Tom Powel Imaging, © Julian Schnabel Studio

Julian Schnabel (b. 1951) studied art at the University of Houston, achieving a BFA, and participated in the independent study program at the Whitney Museum of Art. He has exhibited widely since the late 1970s. His work has been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville; White Cube, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Tate Gallery, London; Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

Recent solo exhibitions include Julian Schnabel, Schloss Derneberg Museum, Germany (2017); Julian Schnabel: Plate Paintings 1978–86, Aspen Museum of Art (2016–2017); Julian Schnabel: Every Angel Has a Dark Side, Dairy Art Centre, London (2014); and Julian Schnabel: Deus ex machina, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin (2012).

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This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Major support is provided by Deutsche Bank, Almine Rech Gallery, Blum & Poe, Pace Gallery, and Vito Schnabel Gallery. Additional support is provided by our in-kind partners Fairmont San Francisco and United Airlines.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s Contemporary Arts Program is made possible by Presenting Sponsor the Lisa & Douglas Goldman Fund. Major support is provided by Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman and The Paul L. Wattis Foundation. Significant support is provided by Frances F. Bowes. Additional support is provided by Alexandra Bowes and Stephen Williamson, Kate Harbin Clammer and Adam Clammer, Jessica and Jason Moment, Katie Schwab Paige and Matt Paige, David and Roxanne Soward, Joachim and Nancy Hellman Bechtle, Jeffrey N. Dauber and Marc A. Levin, Joshua Elkes, The Elkes Foundation, Shaari Ergas, Laurent Fischer and Jason Joseph Anthony, Kaitlyn and Mike Krieger, Lore Harp McGovern, Rotasa Fund, Mr. and Mrs. Charles R. Schwab, Gwynned Vitello, Vance Wall Foundation, Anonymous, and the Contemporary Support Council of the Fine Arts Museums.